Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Columbia School Construction and Equity Act

One thing about Howard County you can't help but notice is that it spends record sums of money on School Construction. Each School is fancier than the next. Since Howard County has seen record growth in the past 2o years, it seems only natural that the School System would have to expand its portfolio right? In that same amount of time, Columbia had a decline in enrollment in its Schools. Well now it's 2010 and future projections show areas with new Schools catching up and Columbia School's enrollment having a large upswing. With a few exceptions, Columbia's Schools have seen better days and fail in comparison to the rest of Howard County's Schools. This is why I'm proposing the Columbia School Construction and Equity Act that will put Columbia Schools right on board with the rest of Howard County. Redistricting will also be included as these new Schools are built.
First lets start off with Atholton Elementary. Redistricting associated with building a new Atholton Elementary will include receiving Dickinson and losing the Huntington Island. Atholton's enrollment jumped from 420 to 480 in just three years. In its peak years, Atholton has had as many as 550 students before adding PreK and all day Kindergarden. Built in 1961 its Capacity is 387.Picture from
Here is a new School that the new Atholton can model itself after. It will boast a Capacity of 588 to allow for Kings Contrivance and Allview Estates to have its young families attend a brand new School with room for growth.
Image from Google Earth
Here is the associated redistricting with the rebuild of Atholton Elementary. (blue is a gain, red is a loss) The Patuxent Valley feed has been eliminated. Students attending Hammond Middle will attend Hammond High and those attending Oakland Mills Middle will attend Oakland Mills High.
Now we come to Bollman Bridge although its relatively new having opened in 1988 it's had to adjust its capacity to accommodate all day Kindergarten and up until recently was always very overcrowded. With Huntington projected to yield large numbers of young families again, redistricting, and the Savage MARC TOD; Bollman Bridge is due for an addition. 222 seats from its current 566 to 788 the largest an Elementary School can be in Howard County. Given that Bollman Bridge is 22 years old, it's time for a complete renovation to complement its addition.

Here's a look at the Bollman Bridge redistricting I have proposed.
Next is Bryant Woods. Hawthorn has provided most of Bryant Wood's population until very recently. Hawthorn is still yielding large numbers but Faulkner Ridge and Bryant Woods itself are beginning to have young Children. Enrollment jumped from 299 in 2002-2003 to 398 in 2006-2007 it's very clear that Columbia's first Elementary School, which opened in 1968 is due for a new larger building. Redistricting to Running Brook dropped enrollment down to 337 in 2007 but now enrollment is back up to 373. With a Capacity of 355, Bryant Woods is projected to keep growing well past 400. No redistricting here.Here is a picture of what I envision the new Bryant Woods to look like. With a Capacity of 454, allowing for growth and making a great selling point for young Families to buy a house in its district.This will be the crown and jewel of my proposed "Wilde Lake Redevelopment." Despite no redistricting in Bryant Woods all students will now attend Wilde Lake High.
Next is Clemens Crossing. At its peak Clemens Crossing topped at 700 Students. It bottomed our at 459 a few years ago and is almost back to 500. Projections show enrollment soaring past 600 and quite possibly 700. With a capacity of 522 and 31 years of age Clemens Crossing needs a new building that can hold all these additional students.Here is the face of the new Clemens Crossing. It will have Martin Road frontage allowing for construction of the new building while keeping its current building in operation. The Pool will be relocated across Quarterstaff Road on a piece of vacant land. The current building's location will be the new ball fields. The new Capacity will be 688.One reason the building size is so large is so Clemens Crossing can help relieve crowding at neighboring Fulton. The Clarksville Hunt Neighborhood will be redistricted here and Cedar Acres, currently at Clemens Crossing will be sent to Swansfield. This eliminates the Harpers Choice Middle/Wilde Lake High feed and expands the Lime Kiln Middle feed. All Students regardless of Middle School (Wilde Lake or Lime Kiln) will attend Atholton High.
Next we come to one of Howard County's oldest Schools; Guilford. Opened in 1954, it has seen the development of Columbia and has been added on to redistricted into and out of more times than anybody can count. In 2003 Guilford's population was at 412 and in 2009 it's surged to 511. This trend is expected to continue to least 600 and with 462 as its current capacity and the building's old age something must be done.
It's time we replaced Guilford with a newer larger building that can handle its continued growth.
It will have a capacity of 610 allowing room for growth. The Hammond Middle feed will be eliminated through the following redistricting proposal.Dickinson will go to Atholton which is closer than Guilford. In turn Guilford will receive the high growth area of Jessup from Bollman Bridge and Deep Run. Route 1 has a lot CAC districts which allows for new high density housing among other uses and this section being redistricted to Guilford. This part of Jessup will also contain the Jessup MARC TOD area where BRAC families may locate. A new Guilford will allow for this growth to be absorbed easily. Students attending Owen Brown Middle will attend Oakland Mills High and Students attending Patuxent Valley Middle will attend Hammond High.Next is the 36 year old Jeffer's Hill. For a couple of years, Jeffer's Hill was very crowded. Redistricting took care of that making enrollment better suited for its capacity of 421 with room for growth. Redistricting dropped Jeffers Hill's enrollment from 512 to 358 in just one year. It has slowly climbed since then to the 380s. It should top out at its capacity of 421. That's before you factor in my "Long Reach Redevelopment" which has the Trevor Condos and Jeffers Glen Town Homes hitting the wrecking ball for new housing. This will certainly yield more students and will have a ripple effect making the School more desirable for those wishing to buy an existing Single Family Home in Jeffers Hill. April Brook Circle and Eckers Hollow, two existing new Communities in the Jeffers Hill District will continue to yield high enrollment numbers.Now wouldn't this Elementary School make a much more attractive and modern looking Jeffer's Hill? I think so, I'm giving it an ambitious capacity of 528. I think it can be filled with a little help from Waterloo and some TOD.The Developments near Long Reach will be redistricted to Jeffer's Hill from the overcrowded Waterloo. The TOD will be built on the grounds of the recession casualty known as Columbia Crossing II. (This will be explained in a future post) this should bring growth to the Jeffer's Hill Community. The Bonnie Branch Middle Howard High feed will be eliminated.
Now we come to Long Reach's first School; Phelps Luck which opened its doors in 1972. It's been East Columbia's most crowded School for quite some time. With new students arriving constantly from the new Montjoy Development it won't be letting up anytime soon. In 2004, after redistricting Phelps Luck's enrollment was trimmed down to 496. Since then it has sky rocketed (with no additional redistricting) to 651. It should top out at around 725 where it will stay.The new Phelps Luck will be a carbon copy of the new Clemens Crossing. With a capacity of 688 it will be much better fit for the density of Phelps Luck. The district is very small in size. Speaking of the Phelps Luck district lets see what redistricting tactics I have up my sleeve.As you can see I flip flopped Phelps Luck and Waterloo. Why? Two reasons; Middle and High Schools feeds and distance. Each neighborhood is now located closer to their new school than their previous one. Also Phelps Luck will have eliminated the Mayfield Woods Long Reach feed. Whether Phelps Luck Students attend Bonnie Branch, Ellicott Mills, or Oakland Mills Middle they will attend Howard High. At Waterloo whether they attend Bonnie Branch or Mayfield Woods, they will attend Long Reach High. None of my "Long Reach Redevelopment" properties are in the Phelps Luck District, they're now in the Waterloo District.
No here we are at my Alma Mater Running Brook Elementary ('89-'95.) Rebuilding a new Running Brook is my answer to the new Town Center Development. They want to build an additional School for said School all the while Schools in West Columbia continue to age not so gracefully. With redistricting handling some of the blame, Running Brook's enrollment exploded from 299 in 2002-2003 to its present enrollment of 434. Its projected to blast through the 500 mark in the coming years and if Running Brook takes all the Town Center Students it could be as high as 600!Say hello to the brand new Running Brook Elementary School, as a '95 graduate, I can say that I won't miss the old building. The new capacity will be 588 allowing for Town Center, the part of my "Wilde Lake Redevelopment" post that's districted her, growth and some small redistricting.To relieve crowding at neighboring Longfellow, Running Brook will be the new home to students living in Beaver Brook. All Running Brook students will not only attend Wilde Lake Middle but Wilde High as well. The Atholton High feed will be eliminated.
This next entry takes us to Oakland Mills, Stevens Forest to be exact. Stevens Forest Elementary once played host to almost 400 students. It receives an addition in 1995 bumping its capacity to 333. Since peaking at 391 in the late '90s enrollment has been on the decline. In 2002 it was at 306. The following year redistricting of a projected 91 students from Talbott Springs to relieve crowding there and boost enrollment at Stevens Forest. In 2003 enrollment jumped to only 358, that projection was off. Enrollment continued to decline until 2008 when it bottomed out at 282. Enrollment went up this past year for the first time without the help of redistricting to just under 300. I think Stevens Forest has more kids in its district than are enrolled at their neighborhood School. The same can be said about Dasher Green. Now I project enrollment to be on the rise again and so does the county. I think Stevens Forest at its current district can have almost 500 students. It had 391 prior to redistricting, and with its larger district it can boost past 450 to just below 500.A new Stevens Forest like the one pictured here would usher more kids into the District as well as existing Private School kids who might give Steven's Forest another look. Also, a small part of my "Oakland Mills Redevelopment" post involves homes in the Stevens Forest District.Now I don't think Talbott Springs was finished with Stevens Forest. It remains crowded while Stevens Forest can take students. So, the redistricting of a few Oakland Mills Road side streets to Stevens Forest (it's closer) will be in order. Ah, Swansfield my current Home School. If I had kids they'd go here since I'm a Clarys Forest resident. Speaking of Clarys Forest it was supposed to have its own Elementary School. Instead they built an addition to Swansfield bumping its capacity to 484. That really wasn't enough. In the mid 1990s Swansfield peaked at 692. It's now at a more reasonable 521. For all day Kindergarten its capacity was again bumped up to 528. However, the decline in enrollment at Swansfield is not permanent. In the time I've lived in Clarys Forest I've seen the population grow younger once again as well as Swansfield proper. 600 Students in the coming years doesn't seem that far fetched. In the long term it could hot 650 or 675.The new Swansfiled will be the largest an Elementary School in Howard County can be. It will have a capacity of 788. Why so high two reasons. One, a lot of my "Harpers Choice Redevelopment" properties are in the Swansfield District which will produce larger numbers of Students. And the other is redistricting. With Clemens Crossing providing relief for Fulton, what School will provide relief for Clemens Crossing? The answer is Swansfield. It's easy to fathom because Swansfield's closer for the neoghborhood in question (Cedar Acres) these are the reasons that the new Swansfield will be so large.
Now we come to the School whose District has always been non contiguous; Talbott Springs. This can be blamed for proposed Schools that were never built in Hopewell and Elkhorn. Talbott Springs (with Dasher Green) has stepped up to the plate in providing a home to Students who would have attended these Schools that never came to fruition. At times Talbott Springs with a capacity of 443 can handle these students while other times Talbott Springs has been over crowded. Enrollment at Talbott Springs changes drastically every year, this can due to a large number of Rental Apartments in its District. In the 2004-2005 School Year enrollment was 507, then in the 2006-2007 School Year it was 426, today it's back up to a whopping 532.The new Talbott Springs will have a capacity of 610. This was set higher because the Talbott Springs District will so many of its older Apartment Complexes redeveloped as part of my "Oakland Mills Redevelopment Plan" The redeveloped Oakland Mills will have a higher home ownership rate that will keep enrollment steadier. The Talbott Springs District will still be non contiguous. Redistricting includes adding some Thunderhill kids as it will play a role in providing relief for the northeast. A small part of the Sewells Orchard/Fairmead Lane area will go to Stevens Forest. If crowding continues, consideration should be paid to one or two parts of Hopewell and consider redistricting one or both of them to Dasher Green.
Now come to our final School in Oakland Mills; Thunderhill. I'm using Thunderhill as a School to help relieve the north and northeast. Northfield is undergoing a renovation and addition as I pen this post in order to house its current District comfortably. I think redistricting some of Northfield into Thunderhill, allowing Northfield to relieve crowding at Centennial Lane and Veterans is a better idea. Why? That way we can build a new Thunderhill. It's 368 capacity is too small as is and with the additional Northfield Students forget it. This is what I envision the new Thunderhill to look like except with a grander front entrance.Look grand enough for you? I think so. The new capacity for Thunderhill will be 555. That will allow for a bigger District.The new district will include the remainder of Dorey Hall not currently districted here. It will eliminate the Northfield Wilde Lake High feed. Also eliminated will be the Ellicott Mills Howard feed. Thunderhill Students will either attend Dunloggin Middle and Wilde Lake High or both Oakland Mills Middle and High. Last but not least we come to Waterloo. Enrollment jumped from from 560 in 2005 to 723 today. In my Phelps Luck section I called for "flip flopping" its district with Waterloo's The new Waterloo District will look like a lot like the curent Phelps Luck District with Waterloo having more Students living closer to it attending. Waterloo spent many years having its District cut up as new Schools were built to relieve crowding now it's Waterloo that will get the new School after 46 but it will still relieve crowding at other nearby Schools.
The new Waterloo won't be much larger than its current School. Its capacity will be 610 versus the current 594. It's not about numbers it's giving Waterloo a new building to accommodate all the new growth coming to the area. Remember when I said Phelps Luck will not have any Students from the Long Reach Redevelopment? That's because they've been redistricted to Waterloo.The new Waterloo District will now absorb growth from Locust Park via my Long Reach Development and the new Shipley's Grant. Gone are the days that Waterloo draws from far away neighborhoods that are closer to newer Schools. Now Waterloo itself will be a new School with a District that draws for closer neighborhoods.

Well it's great to be back blogging about this is the first of many new posts. It's high time that the School System addressed the inequities between Columbia Schools and those in newer parts of the County. One good thing is that there are plenty of temporary buildings that can house Students while their Schools are rebuilt. I'd like to see all Schools complete by 2025. Starting.....NOW!


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but I couldn't get past the neon green text to even get half way through your post. It was making me dizzy and I had a hard time focusing on the text. You may want to think about something a little more pleasing to the eye. :)

Anonymous said...

It's great to see someone advocating for older, Columbia area schools. Rich Ellicott City and points west have dominated for too long. I know that's where the devlopment has been, but it's time (overdue) to look back to Columbia.

P.S. I don't have trouble with the green type. I'm old enough to remember when all computer screens displayed in green!